The 12 Most Famous Artworks at The National Museum of Western Art

1. The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

The Birth of Venus

Dimensions: 172.5 cm × 278.5 cm
Location: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Created: 1484–1486
Genre: Mythological painting
Medium: Tempera on canvas
Period: Early Renaissance

Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is undoubtedly one of the most acclaimed artworks of Western art. The large canvas, measuring 172.5 cm × 278.5 cm, embodies the spirit of the Renaissance period with its mythological depiction of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, rising from the sea. The painting currently resides in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, Italy.

Botticelli’s masterful use of tempera on canvas brings to life the ethereal beauty of Venus, as she stands on a shell accompanied by Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, and the nymph Chloris. The delicate brushwork, vibrant colors, and dreamlike atmosphere make this painting an unforgettable masterpiece of humanism, representing the reawakening of intellectual and artistic pursuits during the Renaissance. The Birth of Venus remains a symbol of the flourishing artistic heritage of Florence during this era.

2. The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

The Starry Night

Dimensions: 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm
Location: Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Created: 1889
Genre: Post-Impressionism
Medium: Oil on canvas
Period: Late 19th century

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is a renowned symbol of Post-Impressionist painting and a testament to the artist’s emotional and psychological struggles. The artwork, measuring 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm, resides in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, captivating viewers with its mesmerizing depiction of the nighttime sky.

Van Gogh’s swirling brushstrokes and intense colors portray a dreamlike landscape with a dominant cypress tree and a small village beneath a spectacular star-filled sky. The artist’s use of thick impasto reveals his despair and longing for tranquillity amidst his personal challenges. Despite the torment Van Gogh endured during this period, The Starry Night encapsulates his genius and artistic vision. It remains a beloved artwork, inspiring countless admirers and serving as a lasting tribute to the brilliance of this troubled artist.

3. Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa

Dimensions: 77 cm × 53 cm
Location: Louvre Museum, Paris
Created: 1503–1506
Genre: Portrait
Medium: Oil on poplar panel
Period: High Renaissance

The enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has captivated the hearts and minds of art enthusiasts for centuries. This iconic portrait, measuring 77 cm × 53 cm, is prominently displayed in the Louvre Museum, in Paris, France.

Da Vinci’s meticulous attention to detail and groundbreaking techniques, such as sfumato, a technique that adds a hazy effect to transition between colors and tones, make the painting come alive. Mona Lisa’s enigmatic gaze, set against the landscape in the background, continues to intrigue scholars and art lovers alike. Regarded as a masterpiece of the High Renaissance, this portrait has become an enduring symbol of beauty, humanity, and mystery.